Sales Prospecting


The Sales MagnetWant to know how to get more customers without cold calling? Then I think you'll be interested in my interview today with Kendra Lee, author of The Sales Magnet. In this excellent new book, she shares tons of strategies you can use to fill your pipeline with new prospects. (Click here to download two free chapters.) 

Jill: Kendra, what are the biggest changes you see in the sales prospecting landscape today? 

Kendra Lee: I think there are several important changes that are fueled by many different things, but one of the biggest — or most important — is that sales prospecting now requires more persistence and multi-channel execution than ever before. 

When you think about prospecting today, it’s not just about cold calling, dropping by, delivering a clever note, or even sending a LinkedIn request to connect with someone. Those things are all important, but if you’re just trying to reach prospects through one channel or at one specific time, you’re not going to be successful. 

Jill: What are the primary mistakes you see salespeople making because they’re taking these changes into account?

Kendra Lee: These kind of feed off of my previous answer, but I think there are three mistakes that are most prevalent:

  • Salespeople give up too quickly
  • They use only one prospecting approach
  • And they don’t have a focused message that fits their prospect

As for what prompts those mistakes, it really boils down to two issues. First, salespeople look for the easy way out, setting their sights on the low-hanging fruit that appears easier to pick. And second, companies understaff or under-employ their sales teams. The latter is mostly fueled by a weak economy, but it can have serious prospecting implications. At the end of the day, one salesperson can only do so much. 

Jill: Let’s talk about Attraction Strategies. You say that they're the best way for sales reps to get more hot prospects. What’s the basic idea of attraction selling?

Kendra Lee: The basic idea is to not give up, and to be in front of your prospects even before they realize they have a need. In a lot of marketing departments, you might hear attraction selling referred to as “awareness campaigns,” while sales teams might call them “warming techniques.” 

Either way, the general idea is that you need to be proactively educating prospects about business issues, even if they don’t recognize that they’re dealing with them yet. That way, when they do realize those issues are a problem, you’re top of mind. It’s really about being ubiquitous. 

Jill: What are the three Attraction Strategies and how do they work?

Kendra Lee: In my book The Sales Magnet, I talk about 14 different attraction strategies, but I group them into what I call the “Prospect Attraction Trifecta.” That includes three specific attraction categories: personal, digital, and collaborative. 

Personal strategies include tactics like personalized e-mails or hand written letters that make prospects feel like you’re talking to them one-to-one. Digital strategies engage prospects through various Web-based channels (social media, corporate blogging, e-newsletters, etc.) with the goal of driving real-time interaction and initiating offline conversations. Collaborative strategies include things like local events, offline PR, alliance partnering, or any of the digital or personal strategies I listed above executed in tandem. 

As for how or why they work, it’s really about broadening your base of contacts, being where your prospects are deepening your conversations, and, as I said previously, becoming more ubiquitous. Truthfully, prospect attraction strategies like email, social media, local events, and blogging are all effective on their own, but not consistently. Executed together, their impact is amplified and your results are multiplied significantly. 

Jill: How are these Attraction Strategies more effective than cold calling?

Kendra Lee: With cold calling, even if you have a very strong message and have done the research, the odds are still against you. If you’re calling people that aren’t aware of you or your solution, it’s going to take several attempts to get them to respond to you. In that sense, cold calling is your only awareness building effort. 

With Attraction Strategies, you’re constantly and consistently warming up prospects across several mediums. You’re building awareness, keeping yourself in front of your prospects, and doing all of that without peppering them with cold calls.

That way, when you do go to make your cold calls, you’ve already banked some awareness equity and your prospects will be more likely to pick up the phone. They still might not answer the first time, but it probably won’t take nine or 10 calls to reach them.  

One sales rep we work with used cold calling combined with a lunch and learn event in her office’s conference room to uncover new prospects. She was averaging just 20% of her target attendees, and of those only 1% were qualified. She changed her strategy to encompass multiple attraction strategies and within one month not only sold out her next event, but uncovered highly qualified leads. She was ecstatic. The strategy works.

Jill: Salespeople are as crazy busy as their clients. Can they really do this type of prospecting efficiently?

Kendra Lee: The short answer is, “Yes.” The trick to making it work is to find your focus. The way you do that is to take your territory, region, or market, and divide it into microsegments — groups of people that share similar needs and respond to similar messages.  

Ultimately, doing that creates efficiency because you only have to create content once and it can be recycled in each of your interactions with prospects in a particular microsegment. You can approach them individually with personal attraction strategies or as a group with collaborative and digital attraction strategies. 

The other natural byproduct of focusing on microsegments is that you’ll inevitably become more knowledgeable about a specific market niche or need. That knowledge will fuel more effective, strategic, and personal conversations, and that will lead to prospects referring you to their microsegment peers. You’ll become the expert that prospects turn to, which creates this fantastic snowball effect.  

Jill: How can salespeople incorporate Attraction Strategies into their work right now?

Kendra Lee: I’ve talked a little bit about that already, but I’ll summarize those tips here: 

  1. Develop microsegments so that you can prospect more efficiently and develop market expertise 
  2. Focus your message on a specific microsegment so that it feels more personal and specific to each prospect’s needs and pain points
  3. Integrate or connect your prospecting efforts so that you’re not just using a single channel. Most sales reps prefer emailing and calling. Go beyond that and use social media, a blog, a newsletter, a webinar, or some other channel that’s particularly relevant to your microsegment. That channel diversity will make you ubiquitous. 

I recognize that salespeople might feel overwhelmed by this, but it honestly requires only a little bit of upfront work for a big payoff down the line. Choose just two or three attraction strategies that you’re comfortable with to get started. The return on your time and energy will be well worth it. 

Thanks a million, Kendra, for sharing all your insights. Your book is excellent -- and so is the toolkit that goes with it. I highly recommend it.  For more info, click here to download two chapters of The Sales Magnet right now. 

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Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, a sales consulting and training firm. KLA Group guides mid-market companies in breaking through tough prospecting barriers to get more customers and exceed revenue goals.

To learn more, visit www.klagroup.com or call 303-741-6636.

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